Online workshop Heluo Lishu: Life Hexagrams from the Book of Change

The Yijing, the Chinese Book of Change, started as a divination system, and this is how most readers of the book still use it. Hexagrams and their components, along with the text that accompanies them, are interpreted for matters concerning health, wealth, management, relations, property and so forth. But through the centuries the system was connected to almost all aspects of Chinese culture: Chinese astrology, Feng Shui, Chinese Medicine, art – these were all influenced by the Book of Change and the numerous kinds of philosophy that were found in it. The connection with Chinese astrology led to the so-called Heluo Lishu 河洛理數 system of life hexagrams:

“The Principles and Numbers of the He River Map and Luo River Book.”

Which is the topic of a new and exciting course. Heluo Lishu is a book and system from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) in which your Chinese horoscope, your bazi 八字, is converted to two hexagrams from the Yijing. These hexagrams are said to explain the groundwork of your personality, the untainted first layer that forms the foundation of who you are. From these hexagrams yearly, monthly, and daily hexagrams are extracted, each telling you something about a certain period in your life.

Many Yijing users are already familiar with Heluo Lishu, because more than 40 years ago an English book was published about it: The Astrology of I Ching by 朱文光 Zhu Wenguang and Wallace Andrew Sherrill. During this course we will make extensive use of material from the original Heluo Lishu book and use that to correct some mistakes and modifications that Chu & Sherrill made in their book. I have studied and researched Heluo Lishu extensively, which resulted in my own Dutch book about the subject. Now, with the help from internet, I can translate it to English, and make my research available for a wider audience.

In this course I will explain the background of Heluo Lishu, its origin and principles, and of course I will teach you how to calculate the hexagrams for a Heluo Lishu horoscope, not only by hand, but also by using an ingenious website, made by one of my good friends, which will save you a lot of time and frustration. Next you will learn how to interpret these hexagrams, how to analyze them, and how to read them as a description of persons, character traits, strong points, and weak points. You will learn the value of the trigrams and line positions, and the rules that the original Heluo Lishu book gives for the interpretation of numerous aspects that are connected to your hexagrams.

Heluo Lishu is not the miracle cure for all your problems, nor is it likely to take away all the black holes in your self-perception. But it does give you the opportunity to look at yourself and your experience in life through a kaleidoscope of hexagrams from the Yijing, each with their own specific perspective and learning points. I have experienced the Heluo Lishu system as a valuable tool for gaining insight in certain key moments in my life. If you also want to learn that, then this course is for you! I am looking forward to study this intriguing system of life hexagrams together with you.

Weekly lessons
Each weekly lesson consists of reading material and videos, assignments with feedback (often by video), and discussions of cases provided by the students and by the teacher, in which the theory is put to practice. There is a discussion forum, as well as a chat function to converse with your teacher and the other students, if you want. Not only that, when the course is finished you will still have an additional three months access to the online learning environment and its facilities.

The lessons are not live, so you can study at your own pace.

  • Start online workshop: February 1st, 2021
  • 10 weekly lessons (and after the course you have three months access to the learning environment)
  • Registration fee: €235.– (±$275)

In order to promote the practice of the Changes, I offer reasonably priced classes so that more people can attend. But because of the amount of personal attention I devote to each student, I cannot offer discounts.

Contents of the course

  • Background Heluo Lishu
    • Chen Tuan 陳摶 (871-989)
    • Shao Yong 邵雍 (1011-1077)
    • contents and date of the text
  • Heluo Lishu in the west
  • The basic material
    • The ganzhi 干支 system of time reckoning
    • The Wuxing 五行: the Five Movements
    • The Houtian Bagua 後天八卦
    • The Xiantian Bagua 先天八卦
    • The Luoshu 洛書, ‘ the book of the Luo river’.
    • The Hetu 河圖, ‘the drawing of the He river’
    • Heluo Lishu in the southern hemisphere
  • Background bazi calculations
    • Roadmap
    • The bazi and the solar calendar
    • Calculating the True Local Time
    • Time zones and time deviation data
    • Longitude of the place of birth
    • Converting the True Local Time to bazi
    • The ‘early rat-late rat’ controversy
  • Background hexagram calculations
    • The trigrams, Stems, Branches and their numbers
    • The importance of 25 and 30
    • The Palace of Five
    • The Yuantang 元堂, the controlling line
    • Hexagrams 1 and 2, and the solstices
  • Converting the bazi to a hexagram
  • Year hexagrams
    • The Da Xiang 大象: The Great Images
  • Houtian 後天 hexagram
    • The San Zhizun Gua 三至尊卦: The Three Most Exalted Hexagrams
  • The Xiao Xiang 小象: The Small Images
  • Month and day hexagrams
  • Meaning of trigrams and lines
    • Trigrams
    • Three types of trigrams
    • The meaning of the nuclear trigrams and enveloping trigrams
    • Lines
  • The ten lucky and unlucky factors
  • The Five Fates
    • The practical side of the Five Fates
  • Strengthening and weakening elements
    • The hexagram and its season
    • Yuan Qi 元氣, ‘Original Qi’
    • Yuan Qi Xiang Fan 元氣相反, ‘reverse Original Qi’
    • Hua Gong 化工, The Workings of Nature’
    • Hua Gong Fan 化工反, ‘Opposite Workings of Nature’
    • The Shi 得時, ‘Lucky time’
    • The Shi 得勢, ‘Obtain Power’
  • The Wuxing
  • The Liu Qin 六親, ‘The Six Relationships’.
  • The meaning of the Heavenly and Earthly Number
    • The xiuxi gua 消息卦
  • Interpretation of year, month and day hexagrams

About Harmen Mesker (click to open)

Harmen (1966) started his study of the Yijing in 1982 when he was sixteen years old. His main interests are the history and language of the Yi, as well as the oldest usage of the book in early China. He recently started a YouTube channel (called YiTube) that will show instructional videos on all aspects concerning the Yi. On his website he shares his latest projects as well as an ongoing research journal on the text of the Book of Changes. Harmen is frequently consulted to assist with the translation of old Chinese texts and had an advisory role in several Dutch translations of Daoist inner alchemy neidan 內丹 texts. His workshops cover all aspects of the Yijing – its early history, development, philosophy and usage as a tool for gaining insight in situations. Harmen also gives specialized workshops about the usage of the Yijing in Chinese Medicine, focusing on the application of the more than two-thousand-year-old Wenwang Gua system. His knowledge of (classical) Chinese enables him to keep up with the latest developments in the field of Yijing studies, and he is connected to the relevant names in the field of sinology. Harmen is co-founder of the Dutch Foundation for Yijing Studies.

“Although I have met Harmen only once, I have corresponded with him for over a decade concerning problems in the interpretation of the Yi jing. He is completely abreast of all of the latest discoveries and publications in this field, and is fully able to make his own contributions both to the history of the text and also to its current interpretation. In his reading of the text, he is able to make use of ancient bronze inscriptions, medieval medical texts, and contemporary practice. The only other scholar in the field that I know who is equally well versed in the entire history of the Yi jing is Richard Smith, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities Emeritus of Rice University. Although I have never visited Harmen in the Netherlands, I understand from colleagues there that he is a respected member of their Sinological community, often participating in the reading of diverse types of texts written in classical Chinese. I know from his work on the Yi jing that he is a very careful scholar, and I am sure that this carries over to all aspects of his professional life. I recommend him very highly.”
– Edward L. Shaughnessy, Creel Distinguished Service
Professor of Early China

“Harmen and I share a deep and abiding interest in the Yijing, and I have learned a great deal from him over the years. Harmen is a supremely gifted autodidact, with what I think of as a particularly Dutch gift for languages. He is well-versed in Classical Chinese (the language of the Yijing), and his English is excellent. He also has experience teaching about the Yijing in English, as one can see from his personal website and his cleverly conceived and executed YouTube channel called YiTube. YiTube has already shown, and it will continue to show, useful instructional videos on the history, theories and practices of the Yijing. Another example of Harmen’s useful English-language pedagogy is his “Translation Notes”. From our robust correspondence, and from reading his published and unpublished work in English, I can see that Harmen Mesker is a person of incisive intelligence, with a probing, inquisitive mind and an extremely generous intellectual spirit.”
– Richard J. Smith, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities Emeritus,
James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Scholar, and former Director of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Studies, and current Chao Center Research Fellow

“I have known Mr. Mesker over two decades, since he first contacted me with questions about the meaning of passages in the Yijing. Mr. Mesker is a rare example of the classical Chinese autodidact. In the years I have known him, his knowledge has grown from that of the neophyte to the level of accomplished scholar without the advantage of formal academic training. Such an achievement is unheard of in the contemporary scholarly world and is indisputable testimony of his intellect.
While Harmen Mesker has not published in traditional scholarly venues, he is well-known in the field of Yi studies, at the very least because of the intellectual dialogues he has maintained with leaders in the field. I personally cited him in my own recent translation of the Zhouyi (Harrassowitz, 2015), and consulted his work on Jing Fang’s bagong “Eight Palaces” system in my book on Ancient Chinese Divination (Hawaii, 2008). Mesker’s online “Translation Notes” are enlightening, and Yijing aficionados worldwide eagerly await additions to his website. We are fortunate that Harmen Mesker has chosen to share his substantial knowledge with practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine in the West. I recommend him without qualification.”
– Stephen L. Field, J.K. and Ingrid Lee Endowed Professor of Chinese Language and Literature
Director, East Asian Studies at Trinity (EAST) Program Center for International Engagement, Trinity University, San Antonio

Registering is a 2-step process:

  1. fill in the form below
    (please don’t use the registration form for information requests or to contact Harmen.)
  2. click the PayPal button below the form to pay the required fee and to finalize your registration. You don’t need to have a PayPal account for this: you can pay as guest and use your credit card.

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4 Responses to Online workshop Heluo Lishu: Life Hexagrams from the Book of Change

  1. Valeria says:

    Will the Heluo course overlap with the Power of the exagram course? And if so would you recommend or discourage to do both at the same time?

    • Hi Valeria, the Heluo course will somewhat overlap with the Power course, but they don’t really clash because of the nature of both courses – the Power course is more divination-oriented while the HLLS course is more ‘astrology’ oriented. The material from the Power course can complement the HLLS course and vice-versa (HLLS teaches you to ‘read’ a hexagram as if it is a person.) You should be able to do both without problems.

  2. Gabriel Carasso says:

    Hello! I encountered the astrology of I Ching and somewhere at the beginning of the book the author tells us that this calculations is only for the north hemisphere! Do you incorporate us southerners???? Hope so!!

    • Hi Gabriel,

      Don’t worry: the Southern Hemisphere is accounted for in the course 🙂 Sherrill & Chu give alternative calendar calculations at the back of their book for the Southern Hemisphere. Personally I don’t find a different calendar necessary. As I say in my book,

      “In the application of Yijing Astrology, the seasons are extremely important: they determine to a large extent whether a hexagram is favourable or unfavourable. However, the seasons are not the same all over the globe. If it is summer in the northern hemisphere, it is winter in the southern hemisphere and vice versa (making it summer at Christmas with 30°C in Australia. A white Christmas is impossible there). Compared to the northern hemisphere, the seasons in the southern hemisphere have shifted six months. Heluo Lishu originated in China, and this country is located in the northern hemisphere. The dates mentioned in the system and the seasons that are related to those dates are from the northern hemisphere. At the time the system originated, the Chinese did not yet know about a southern hemisphere, so Heluo Lishu does not take this into account. But because the Heluo Lishu texts often refer to the seasons, and because those seasons in the southern hemisphere are different in the year than in the northern hemisphere, you cannot avoid adapting certain rules and tables.

      The dilemma of the southern hemisphere is a tricky point in the world of Chinese cosmology. Two camps have emerged in which one camp says that adjustments must be made for the southern hemisphere, and the other camp strongly disagrees with this. Elements that are supplied before adaptation are magnetic earth fields, the coupling of the Houtian Bagua to the wind directions, the position and direction of the sun. Opponents of adaptation in the system argue that we are dealing with cosmological and universal principles instead of local place rules.
      Sherrill & Chu, with their book The Astrology of I Ching, belong to the camp which finds adaptations necessary to make the principles of Heluo Lishu, and Chinese astrology in general, applicable to the southern hemisphere: they choose to make a new Chinese calendar for the southern hemisphere. In itself there is something to be said for this, but the starting points for the given changes are very unclear – they say without further substantiation that the adjusted calendar must have a time difference of five and a half years compared to the original calendar. Especially the lack of a clear foundation for this has caused a lot of resistance and has been the reason for many Feng Shui and bazi practitioners to put the suggestions of Sherrill & Chu aside.

      I myself believe that an adjustment of the calendar is unnecessary. According to legend, the Chinese calendar started with a conjunction of the five planets, the sun and the moon. Such a conjunction is not tied to a place on earth, and this suggests that the Chinese calendar is valid for the whole earth. An adjustment for the southern hemisphere is then unnecessary, and also the calculations for a life hexagram remain the same. It is different with the interpretation of the outcome, because in the texts given for this purpose there is a continuous reference to the month of birth and the corresponding season. You’ll have to adapt this to the southern hemisphere.

      In this book it is assumed that the calculations apply to the northern hemisphere, but where a table or line in my opinion needs to be adjusted to make it applicable to the southern hemisphere this is indicated with ZH. To keep the book clear and to avoid confusion and errors, the tables and rules adapted for the southern hemisphere are included in an appendix. If you encounter ZH in the text, you will find an alternative for these lines or tables in the appendix.”

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